TONY KOCH. For 30 years I worked for News Corp papers. Now all I see is shameful bias. (THE GUARDIAN 9.5.2019)

May 10, 2019

No editor I worked for would publish the rubbish they now produce.  

About six weeks ago I cancelled my subscription for The Australian newspaper after getting it for more than 30 years. As soon as this election is over, I will do the same with the Courier-Mail. 

I worked as a journalist for some 30 years for those papers and loved every minute of it. They were quality newspapers that cared for their employees and cared more for the product – concerned with breaking real news stories that were as accurate and true as could possibly be established.

The Australian in particular was a big-impact paper which regularly set the news agenda for media throughout the country.

If it is not anti-Labor it is anti-Green or, quite ridiculously, anti-ABC. Anything except a story negative to the Liberal or National parties.

Gone is the requirement for balance. One has only to look at the story selection and headlines on the front pages of the papers each day to see that an anti-Labor angle has been taken, however contorted had been the literary gymnastics required to finally arrive at that particular bit of stupidity.

How infantile is it of the management of these organisations to fool themselves into believing that what they are producing is being accepted by readers as quality product. I have many conservative friends who are as disgusted as I am at these newspapers because they know that what they are reading is either distorted or just plain wrong.

It is a particularly pathetic attitude given the difficulty print media has competing with the digital era. Why would anybody want to alienate any significant proportion of their potential readership – in this case Labor supporters, Greens supporters, Indigenous people, women, ABC supporters – the list goes on. Anybody but LNP people – and then only a portion of them.

I am asked if I think this is as a result of directions from Rupert Murdoch. I have no knowledge of that except to note it is ridiculous to suggest that Rupert rolls out of bed in the morning, grabs his laptop and checks out the political angles taken by the Courier and The Australian. More likely the current management feels the need to second-guess what he wants and they think they are providing that with their unbalanced rubbish.

These newspapers are, in my opinion, avoiding their prime responsibility to be a fearless watchdog on government and society, and to work to ensure that wrongs are exposed and fairness is invoked for all. I cannot see that they are anything other than misguided lapdogs – and toothless ones at that.

It grieves me to hear that The Australian has become little more than a laughing stock. That was not the case in past years. I must say that I was never in my years instructed to write an article, or not write an article, because it suited a political bent of a particular editor.

The journalists are not to blame. Many have been friends of mine for decades and they share my disgust. Probably the most blatant example of bias and low-grade coverage is the employment of most of the columnists who appear weekly. Their observations are, in the main, predictable, weak, unresearched and juvenile.

I understand how circulation numbers have plummeted when readers are expected to digest the undergraduate efforts of most of these opinion writers. Really, they are appalling.

I do not know even one person under the age of 40 who buys a newspaper or subscribes now to one online. They depend for their news on radio, television and mostly the much-criticised social media.

I have never been a member of a political party, but this time I was so disgusted with what News Corp was shoving down the neck of my fellow Australians that I volunteered in my local electorate of Dickson to assist the Labor candidate.

I did it because the candidate is Ali France who was a cadet at the Courier-Mail when I was there 25 years ago, and her ability and honesty are well-known. She does not deserve to be discriminated against by any media bent on ensuring she does not get a fair go.

And that has certainly happened.

Tony Koch is an Australian journalist who has won five Walkley awards and an honorary doctorate from the Australian School of Journalism. He has also won 48 state journalism awards, the Sir Keith Murdoch News Limited Award and the Graham Perkin Award. He has been inducted into the Australian media hall of fame.

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